Rules of the Rooftop: Platform Design and Price Reductions in an Online Solar Photovoltaic Marketplace in the United States

Eric OShaughnessy, Robert Margolis, Benjamin Leibowicz, Kunal Punjabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations


Residential solar photovoltaic (PV) customers typically obtain price quotes directly from installers, a process with high consumer search costs that enable price dispersion and can discourage adoption. Recently, however, customers are increasingly shopping for PV using third-party online platforms that make it easier to obtain and compare quotes from multiple installers. While early evidence indicates that these platforms make the PV market more transparent and lower prices, the literature suggests that market outcomes are critically linked to detailed aspects of platform design. In this study, we econometrically analyze a unique dataset of quotes offered in the online PV marketplace EnergySage to investigate how four changes to the platform design have influenced quote prices and transaction prices. We find that the largest reductions in quote prices ($0.11/ W) and transaction prices ($0.15/W) were associated with the introduction of a price guidance information feature for installers. While educating and informing customers has repeatedly emerged as a policy priority for bolstering PV markets, these results suggest that the same should be true on the supply side. We also find that customers are willing to pay higher transaction prices for systems with higher-quality panels, dispelling concerns that online PV marketplaces lead to a “race to the bottom” phenomenon by emphasizing price at the expense of quality.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)194-204
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-72194


  • Consumer search
  • Platform design
  • Pricing
  • Solar energy


Dive into the research topics of 'Rules of the Rooftop: Platform Design and Price Reductions in an Online Solar Photovoltaic Marketplace in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this